No magic shortcuts to getting shovels in the pipeline ground – by Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star – March 3, 2016)

MONTREAL—When all is said and done, there is no rational reason for this week’s climate change gathering of first ministers in Vancouver to feature an East-West brawl over pipelines.

Unless the premiers of the energy-producing provinces are irresistibly inclined to lead a charge on windmills, they have no reason to get on their high horses in order to cast themselves as champions of their resources industry.

When it comes to the pipeline agenda, there are no irreconcilable differences between Canada’s first ministers. Remarkably, to a man and a woman, the premiers and the prime minister are all sold on it.

To varying degrees they all subscribe to the notion that getting more Western Canada oil to tidewater is in the economic interest of the country. Challengers of that perspective are few and far between in the Canadian political mainstream and none currently sits at the federal-provincial table.

The wide pro-pipeline consensus includes Quebec’s Philippe Couillard. This week, he has been painted in some media and political quarters — including in the corridors of the Saskatchewan government in Regina — as a black sheep for insisting the Energy East project live up to Quebec’s environmental standards.

And yet that is not even a position Couillard arrived at readily. The province’s hand was at least partly forced by events. Sadly, for those who would not let a few facts get in the way of a good West-versus-East plotline, those events mostly took place in British Columbia.

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